22nd November 2019

RusAF charged with obstructing an investigation

The Russian Athletics Federation (RusAF) will have until 12 December to respond to charges that it failed to cooperate with and obstructed an anti-doping investigation, which has resulted in charges being issued seven people including RusAF’s President and Executive Director. The Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) of World Athletics announced that the seven individuals have also been charged with tampering and complicity, due to failure to cooperate with its investigation into ‘whereabouts’ violations committed by high jumper Danil Lysenko.

Calls have again been made for RusAF management to resign. RusAF has temporarily suspended President Dmitry Shlyakhtin and Artur Karamyan, a RusAF Board Member and President of the Moscow Regional Athletics Federation where Lysenko competes. Its announcement didn’t mention suspension of any of the three other RusAF officials charged by the AIU (PDF below). Yuriy Borzakovskiy, also from the Moscow region and currently Head Coach of Russian athletics, will be unveiled as RusAF’s Acting President at a press event tomorrow.

“Currently, lawyers are studying the circumstances of the case and the charges”, said Dmitry Shlyakhtin, RusAF’s President, in a statement. “We are talking about a temporary suspension. The investigation of the case is still pending, and its details are confidential. RusAF and all of those accused should provide an explanation to the AIU by 12 December. RusAF and all staff have received notification. It is 50 pages of text in each case. The lawyers have already begun work. Only after a detailed assessment of the situation, legal advice and a complete understanding of the circumstances, will I be able to comment further.”

Danil Lysenko investigation

On 2 June, The Sunday Times alleged that RusAF officials had been complicit in forging documentation to assist Lysenko, after he was notified about a ‘whereabouts’ failure. The AIU said that it had taken the decision to charge RusAF and the seven individuals following a 15 month investigation into the high jumper’s case in cooperation with the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA). The investigation concluded ‘that RusAF officials had been involved in the provision of false explanations and forged documents to the AIU in order to explain whereabouts failures by the Athlete’, read its statement. 

World Athletics had permitted Lysenko to compete as an Authorised Neutral Athlete (ANA) following the suspension of RusAF. Under the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) International Standard for Testing and Investigations (ISTI), which is mandatory for anti-doping organisations (ADOs) that have adopted the World Anti-Doping Code, ADOs must establish a Test Distribution Plan (TDP) including a Registered Testing Pool (RTP).

Athletes included in the RTP must provide ‘whereabouts’ information for the next three months in advance, indicating where they will be available for one hour in every 24, although locations can later be amended. Under Article 2.4 of the World Anti-Doping Code, ‘whereabouts failures’ comprise ‘Any combination of three missed tests and/or filing failures, as defined in the International Standard for Testing and Investigations, within a twelve-month period by an Athlete in a Registered Testing Pool’. The AIU notified Lysenko of his third ‘whereabouts’ failure on 25 June 2018.

Shlyakhtin argued at a Team Meeting that forgery allegations stemmed from translation of Lysenko’s documents…

‘The AIU investigated the veracity of the explanations provided by Danil Lysenko to explain his whereabouts failures and concluded that the explanations were false and supported by forged documents’, reads the AIU’s statement. RusAF and Shlyakhtin argue that Lysenko asked Elena Orlova – one of the officials charged by the AIU – for help in translating Lysenko’s explanation and medical certificate, after which they were sent to World Athletics. They contend that this translation process is what led to allegations of forged documentation. 

Calls for resignations

Shlyakhtin told the World Athletics Task Force that he would cooperate with the AIU’s investigation…

In June this year, Shlyakhtin told the World Athletics Task Force charged with monitoring whether RusAF has met the conditions required for reinstatement about the AIU’s investigation. He said that RusAF had ‘nothing to hide’ and committed to cooperating in full.

In the final phase of the AIU’s investigation between 10 April and 21 November this year, the AIU said it had conducted 22 witness interviews; acquired 14 electronic storage devices (including mobile phones and hard drives); conducted digital analysis of six terabytes of electronic data; translated 7,000 documents or records. Its apparent conclusion is that RusAF and its management didn’t cooperate, as Shlyakhtin promised in June.

As such, further calls have been made for resignations. ‘RusAF in its current format and composition will only be saved by drastic measures’, wrote Maria Lasitskene, high jump Gold Medalist at the Doha 2019 World Athletics Championships and a member of the RusAF Athletes Commission, in an Instagram post (below) directed at Russian Minister of Sport Pavel Kolobkov. ‘Early snap elections; a new Charter; a global review of the entire structure, up to and including deprivation of State accreditation. In Russia, boxers, weightlifters and Paralympians have had a successful experience of changing things in a shorter time. There should not be any “wait until the end of the investigation” or “we will appoint one of the deputies”. The new team, whose task was to get us out of the doping nightmare, was no better than the old one. And in some ways, even worse. Shlyakhtin and his team must immediately leave their posts and never return. And I will achieve this. With or without your support.’

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Министру спорта РФ и главе ОКР Уважаемый Павел Анатольевич, ВФЛА в нынешнем формате и составе спасут лишь резкие меры: от скорейших внеочередных выборов, нового устава, глобального пересмотра всей структуры, вплоть до лишения государственной аккредитации. В России есть удачный опыт боксеров, паралимпийцев, изменивших всё и за более короткие сроки. Никаких «подождем до окончания расследования» или «назначим пока кого-то из заместителей» не должно быть. Новая команда, задача которой была вывести нас из допингового кошмара, оказалась ничем не лучше старой. А в чем-то даже хуже. Шляхтин и его команда должны незамедлительно покинуть занимаемые посты и больше никогда не возвращаться. И я буду добиваться этого. С вашей поддержкой или без. Уважаемый Станислав Алексеевич, После весеннего заседания Совета при президенте РФ по развитию физ. культуры и спорта глава государства утвердил перечень поручений. В одном из них ОКР рекомендовано в срок до 2 декабря принять исчерпывающие меры по восстановлению членства ВФЛА в ИААФ. Как член комиссии атлетов ВФЛА я надеюсь на то, что ОКР опубликует в открытом доступе информацию о том, что было сделано вашей организацией в этом направлении за последние полгода. Думаю, что атлеты имеют право знать, как им помогают. Уважаемые Павел Анатольевич и Станислав Алексеевич, Вы регулярно говорите, что спортсмен — самая важная часть олимпийского движения и спорта в целом. Пришел тот момент, когда необходимо это наглядно продемонстрировать не на словах, а на деле. Наша легкая атлетика в агонии и медлить больше нельзя. Мы уже потеряли 4 года. Чистые атлеты все ещё беззащитны и не уверены в том, что завтра они получат возможность выступать. В российской легкой атлетике, как и в стране в целом, есть много достойных и думающих людей, которые хотят и могут что-то изменить. Поэтому не стоит ссылаться на то, что у нас некому будет заменить Шляхтина и его команду. Это неправда. Тоже самое относится и к разговорам о невозможности заменить тренеров, чьи «методы» всем прекрасно известны, а они продолжают работать в сборной. Очень надеюсь на то, что мы все-таки плывем с вами в одной лодке и действительно хотим перемен.

A post shared by Мария Ласицкене (@lasitskene.maria) on

Lasitskene pointed out that Stanislav Pozdnyakov, President of the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC), had pledged to take measures to restore RusAF’s membership of World Athletics by 2 December. ‘I hope that the ROC will publish, in the public domain, what your organisation has done in this direction over the past six months’, she writes in the above post.

‘You regularly say that an athlete is the most important part of the Olympic movement and sports in general’, she continues, directing her comments at both officials. ‘The moment has come when it is necessary to demonstrate this clearly – not in words, but in deeds. Our athletics is in agony, and you can not longer linger. We have already lost four years. Clean athletes are still defenceless, and are not sure that tomorrow, they will have the opportunity to perform. In Russian athletics, as in the country as a whole, there are many worthy and thoughtful people who want change and can change things.

‘Therefore, do not refer to the fact that we will have nobody to replace Shlyakhtin and his team. It is not true. The same applies to conversations about the impossibility of replacing coaches whose “methods” are well known to everybody, and they continue to work for the team. I hope that we sail with you in the same boat, and that you really want change.’

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